Auntie Em’s husband, and a loving uncle to Dorothy.
Hunk/The Scarecrow………………………………….………….….Ray Bolger
Hunk is one of the workers on Auntie Em’s farm, but in the land of Oz, he’s a gentle scarecrow who is very sad because he doesn’t have a brain
(A scarecrow is an object that is made of straw and shaped like a man,
that is placed on farmland to scare birds away from the crops).
Hickory/The Tinman…………………………………..……..……Jack Haley
Hickory is another farm worker, but in the land of Oz, he’s a gentle man made out of tin metal, who is sad because he doesn’t have a heart.
Zeke/The Lion……………………….……………………………..….Bert Lahr
Zeke is also a worker on Auntie Em’s farm, but in the land of Oz, he is
a lion who is very sad because he does not have any courage.
Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West…………..Margaret Hamilton
Miss Gulch is an old, rich and very mean woman who is determined to have Dorothy’s dog killed because he had chased her cat around her garden. In the land of Oz, she is the Wicked Witch of the West, who threatens to kill Dorothy and her dog (A person who is “wicked” is very evil and bad, and a “witch” is usually an old, ugly woman who has magical powers).
Glinda, the Good Witch of the North……………………….Billie Burke
A “witch” who is not ugly and evil, but in fact very kind and beautiful!
She helps Dorothy get to the city of Oz while protecting her from the Wicked Witch of the West.
Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz…………………………Frank Morgan
Professor Marvel is a kind of travelling peddler or salesman, with a strong interest in magic. In the Land of Oz, he is the Wizard of Oz himself (A “wizard” is a man who also has great and magical powers).
Dorothy’s much loved pet, and perhaps the most
famous dog in the history of the movies.
This film is the amazing story of Dorothy Gale, a very sweet and innocent girl who lives with her aunt and uncle on a poor farm in the state of Kansas
(It’s not clear when it was supposed to take place, since the book The Wizard of Oz was written in 1902, but the movie was not made until 1939, and there are no obvious references to suggest an exact date). One day Dorothy decides to run away from home in order to protect her little dog, Toto, after a horribly mean woman named Miss Gulch threatens to have him killed. Dorothy and Toto leave to discover the world, but after meeting a strange yet kind man named Professor Marvel, she decides to return to her home a few hours later, just as a tornado hits the farm. She is hit on the head as the tornado strikes, and instantly falls into a deep, color filled and magical dream.
Dorothy finds herself in a fascinating world called the Land of Oz, where evil witches and good witches, tiny people called Munckins, and various talking animals all live. She is treated as a hero by the Munchkins, because her house had fallen on, and thus killed, the Wicked Witch of the East. But Dorothy soon discovers that this Witch had a sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, who is still very much alive. Glinda, the good and beautiful Witch of the North, makes sure that Dorothy is protected from this other Wicked Witch, by placing on Dorothy’s feet magic ruby slippers (red shoes), that have great powers, and that the Wicked Witch of the West very much wants to have.
Although Dorothy loves many of the wonderful things about this new world, she very much wants to return to her home and family in Kansas. Glinda tells her that unfortunately, the only person who could help her get back
to Kansas is the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, who lives far from Munchkinland, in the city of Oz. Thus, while wearing the magical slippers, Dorothy heads off with Toto on a long journey to Oz, by carefully following the famous yellow brick road that will lead them there.
On the way to Oz, Dorothy becomes friends with three magical characters, all of whom decide to join her, both to protect her, and to see if the Wizard can also help each of them. Her three new friends are the Scarecrow, who wants the Wizard to give him a brain, the Tinman, who wants the Wizard to give him a heart, and the Lion, who wants the Wizard to give him some courage. Dorothy meets one after the other, and all the while, she must face the constant threats of the Wicked Witch of the West, who does everything she can to prevent Dorothy and her friends from reaching their destination.
Eventually though, they do reach the city of Oz, but before the Wizard will give them what they desire, they must face the Wicked Witch one last time. After doing so, all of Dorothy’s friends seem to get what they had wished for, and Dorothy herself learns an amazing lesson about friendship, family and the way to get back to her beloved home in Kansas….
A quick note on the film’s popularity: At least in the United States,
The Wizard of Oz is probably the most widely known and recognized movie in the history of the cinema. It is shown every year on national television, and it is often the first movie that every generation of new parents show their young children. The songs within the movie may be as familiar to most people as anything by the Beatles or Beethoven, and word for word, there are probably as many famous and universally recognized lines as any play by Shakespeare. Beyond all this, it has become one of the most loved films ever made, by both children and adults.
A quick note on the language: Although this is “a children’s story,” the vocabulary in this movie is extremely rich, and a lot of the language is said with great sarcasm and humor that only adults would really appreciate.
Being over 60 years old, some of the English is now very dated, but most of the dialog remains surprisingly fresh. Most importantly though, many of the characters speak very quickly and with strange accents, although you should get used to them as the movie goes on.
A note on the asterisk (*): Much of the dialog is sung in wonderful songs, which are sometimes difficult to understand. An * before any entry in the glossary below means that the words being explained are sung rather than just spoken.